Nuclera acquires E Ink’s digital microfluidics unit


Nuclera (Cambridge, UK), a fast-growing biotech company developing enzymatic protein and gene synthesis technologies, and E Ink (Billerica, Massachusetts), a leading innovator of electronic ink technology, have announced the acquisition of E Ink’s digital microfluidics unit into the newly formed US subsidiary of Nuclera. Combining the technologies of the two companies will enable the delivery of a revolutionary desktop protein and gene “bioprinter” with breakthrough speed and convenience for researchers in human health, agriculture, and other markets of global importance.

Nuclera has been working in a strategic partnership with E Ink since 2018 to deploy its proprietary biopolymer synthesis technologies on E Ink’s digital microfluidic devices. Instead of the physical channels found in conventional microfluidics, digital microfluidics uses electronic signals to guide microdroplets. When combined with Nuclera biopolymer synthesis, this advanced lab-on-a-chip technology will enable a user to digitally programme the next day bioprinting of proteins and genes on a desktop device. The result is a bioprinter that gives unprecedented access to biology. Commercialisation is expected in 2022.

In the transaction, E Ink will contribute intellectual property, equipment, and highly specialised scientists and engineers. Reciprocally, the company will become the largest strategic shareholder in Nuclera. The resulting US subsidiary will be co-located within the E Ink Innovation Center in Billerica, MA, a short distance from the growing biotech technology hub in Cambridge, MA. The combination of these two efforts into one company is expected to further increase the rate of development, commercialisation, and adoption of this ground-breaking product as well as consolidate the intellectual property position. E Ink will continue to be a strategic supplier to Nuclera for key electronic components of the desktop bioprinter.

Dr Michael Chen, co-founder and CEO of Nuclera, commented: “Our partner, E Ink, made reading accessible by printing words with electronic ink. We are proud to work with E Ink to make biology accessible by printing biology with digital microfluidics. This acquisition allows Nuclera to combine the biological with the digital in one product and under one roof. We now look forward to further strengthening our strategic partnership with E Ink through joint R&D, manufacturing, and product development projects.”

Dr Michael McCreary, chief innovation officer of E Ink, said: “This spinout and ongoing relationship with Nuclera gives E Ink the opportunity to leverage our knowledge and capabilities in electronic paper technology into the growing biotechnology sector which has increasingly critical importance to the current and future challenges in global health and sustainability. We are pleased to be able participate in this market through an equity stake in Nuclera and look forward to the continuing relationship as a strategic supplier to and equity partner with Nuclera.”

Caption: Nuclera’s desktop bioprinter powered by digital microfluidic technology (photo: Business Wire)

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